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January 25, 2014

Ultimate Preview: Pittsburgh

MARYLAND VS. PITTSBURGH
The Opponent
Who: Pittsburgh Panthers
Location: Pittsburgh, Pa.
Colors: Blue, Gold
Series Record: Maryland leads 5-3

Record: 17-2 (5-1 ACC)
National Ranking: AP - 20; Coaches - 19

Head Coach: Jamie Dixon
Record at Pittsburgh: 279-88 (11th season)
Total Record: 279-88


The Game
When: Jan. 25, 2014, 6:00 p.m. ET
Where: College Park, Md.
Venue: Comcast Center

TV: ESPN2 - Carter Blackburn (play-by-play), Sean Farnham (analyst)
Radio: Terrapin Sports Radio Network (affiliates)

Vegas Line: Pittsburgh -4

The Numbers

11: Maryland is 11-0 this season when leading with 5:00 to play in the game.

14.6:
Jake Layman is averaging a team-high 14.6 points in nine home games this season.

34: Saturday night's game at Comcast Center will be the Pitt Panther's first appearance in College Park since 1980, a span of 34 years.

The Quote

"I'm doing too much talking. I'm doing a lot of talking. It's getting somewhere, but not where I want it to be. I have to do more leading by example."

- Dez Wells on his leadership.

Three weeks ago at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh, Maryland was locked at 28 with the red-hot Panthers as the first half wound down. Twenty-three minutes later, Pitt walked away with a convincing 20-point win. The snowball effect has most damagingly afflicted their offense, where the Terps abandon the concepts they've been taught and their screen-based offense devolves into one-on-one basketball.

"Right now I just don't have enough timeouts in the game," Turgeon said on Friday afternoon. "There are some things they have to do on their own that they've been taught."

Turgeon's teachings resumed this week after a demoralizing loss on Monday night to an N.C. State team missing All-American candidate T.J. Warren. As Ralston Turner caught fire for the Wolfpack, the Terps fell apart. They weren't exactly effective on offense early, but the individualism they exhibited in the game's critical moments allowed State back into it and eventually sank the Terrapins.

"When things go bad we try to do it on our own. You can't do that," Turgeon added. "That's what young teams do. And we're not young. We have experienced players. I'm not making excuses. When things go wrong, that's when you really have to stay together as a team. We didn't do that. We broke plays off and took really bad shots."

Turgeon's been transparent about his team's problems all year, complicating any accusations of excuse making by the third-year coach. Is it possible this is just a tough group to coach?

"We've got to grow up," he said. "Our guys have to mature. I've got to coach them better. We've got to play better. We've had a great week so we'll see. We're really disappointed in our last game, the way it ended. The way we played in the second half."

They will get another shot at No. 20 Pitt on Saturday night at the Comcast Center. The Terps are at the bottom of a self-dug hole and the only way out is through opponents like the Panthers. While losing to N.C. State was a destructive smudge on their resume, beating the Wolfpack wouldn't really have moved the needle much. Beating Pitt will.

"We have to look at it as an opportunity," Turgeon said. "Where we are in our season, we'd rather play some ranked teams and have a chance to beat some ranked teams than playing teams that aren't quite as good. In the end it's who you beat, so we got to start beating some good teams."

That is an optimistic way of saying that, when it comes to their NCAA Tournament hopes, the Terps are a desperate bunch.

"There's always a few team that gets hot," Turgeon said. "Hopefully we're one of those teams."

- Alex Lee

NOTES, QUOTES

Mark Turgeon said guards Roddy Peters and Seth Allen sat in the second half due to not doing as they were asked on the court .

Both Turgeon and Wells noted that the team has been impatient on the offensive end of the floor and they need to settle down and do what is asked of them.

Look for Damonte Dodd to play significant minutes against Pitt after a strong showing versus NC State. Turgeon said he has really come along on the defensive end of the floor.

G Seth Allen is still out of shape according to Turgeon and needs to really be pushed right now after so much time off.

THREE PANTHERS TO WATCH

PG James Robinson is a local DeMatha product and the cog that makes the Panthers go. He currently leads the ACC and nation with a 5.78 assist-to-turnvoer ratio.

SF Lamar Patterson has put together one of the best seasons of any player in the country and is likely to win several postseason awards. He scored 19 points in the first matchup.

Freshman guard Josh Newkirk was a spark for the Panthers in the first matchup between these teams, knocking down a key pair of three-point shots and dishing out a couple of assists in 18 minutes of play.

KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Play two complete halves - The Terps looked like they had a good shot of winning up at Pittsburgh - for 18 minutes - before the wheels fell off. Maryland will need to play a full 40 minutes at home like they did the first 18 on the road.

2. Rebound, rebound, rebound - Maryland was able to hang with Pitt on the glass in the first matchup. If they can win the battle of the boards at home, they will have a very good chance of pulling the upset.

3. Patience - Mark Turgeon and Dez Wells talked about it, but the Terps need to show more patience on the offensive end of the court. They will need to get some good looks against a very good defensive team in Pittsburgh.

MATCHUPS
James Robinson vs. Seth Allen
Seth Allen had his best game of the season scoring the ball in the first matchup with 18 points. Allen has struggled in the Terps' past two ACC road contests, scoring a combined 9 points. Hopefully the friendly confines of Comcast and another matchup with Pitt will get things turned around for the sophomore guard. On the other side, Robinson has put up a nation-leading 5.78 assist-to-turnover ratio. Maryland will need to disrupt his rythme as Robinson returns home.
Edge: Pittsburgh
Cameron Wright vs. Dez Wells
Cameron Wright struggled matching up with Dez Wells in the first meeting between these two. Wright shot just 2-10 from the field. But Wright also managed 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Dez Wells seems locked in after struggling shooting the ball himself at NC State. Look for him to show more patience on the offensive end.
Edge: Maryland
Lamar Patterson vs. Jake Layman
Patterson, a 6-5 senior, has shot the ball lights-out this season for the Panthers. He's averaging 17.4 points per game and is shooting over 50 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc. Layman will have his hands full defensively, but look for him to breakout on the offensive end of the floor where he leads the Terps in scoring at home this season. An early three would be big for his confidence.
Edge: Pittsburgh
Michael Young vs. Evan Smotrycz
Freshman forward Michael Young hasn't put up big numbers this season, but the Panthers could use a boost from him the rest of the way in the absence of Durand Johnson. Smotrycz scored 14 points in the first matchup between these teams, but he didn't shoot the ball particularly well. If Smotrycz can knock down a few more shots at home, it could be a big game for him.
Edge: Maryland
Talib Zanna vs. Shaquille Cleare
Talib Zanna has been a double-double machine for Pitt this season, having already recorded six double-doubles so far. He also leads the Panthers with 7.9 rebounds per game and is shooting an impressive 61.7 percent from the field. Cleare struggled versus Pitt despite a few early makes on the offensive end. His defense will be needed down low.
Edge: Pittsburgh
Depth: Pitt Bench vs. Maryland Bench
Durand Johnson torched the Terps in the first meeting between these teams, scoring 17 points including three made 3-pointers. However, Johnson has been lost for the season with a knee injury. Nick Faust has played well off the bench and Charles Mitchell is coming off of an impressive 18 rebound performance versus NC State. Minus Durand Johnson, the Terps should have a significant edge in bench play.
Edge: Maryland
Jamie Dixon vs. Mark Turgeon
Jamie Dixon has the Panthers now 17-2 and poised to make a run at the ACC championship in their first season in the league. Dixon got the better of Turgeon in the first game between these two this season, but Maryland hung tough for the first 18 minutes. Things could play out differently in the rematch with a boisterous home crowd behind the Terps.
Edge: Pittsburgh



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